Press Room

Open Studios Interview with Samantha Emmons – at The Base

by Gillian Durrant
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When I’m standing in front of a large Samantha Emmons picture I feel a voice in my head saying ‘go on – jump in!’ Her paintings have such depth and lush wetness it feels like you are looking down into a woodland pond or exotic rock pool. Unsurprisingly Samantha won the prize for the best exhibit at last year’s Open Studios Insight exhibition. I had never seen a picture like it – for its glossy sheen and depth of layering with gorgeous colours, and I was grateful for the opportunity to interview her to find out more about her technique and the story behind the image.

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Since graduating with a Masters in Fine Art in 2001 where she spent time painting the water meadows near Winchester Cathedral, Samantha has been experimenting with techniques to capture the currents, plants, colours, ripples and reflections in water. Her oil paints are mixed with yacht varnish, in varying consistencies, to create the shiny translucent layers which are applied in various ways and built up over weeks and months. The paintings look so organic and natural that I was surprised to learn that she sketches out the pictures before starting, but Samantha did admit that she embraces happy accidents and usually incorporates them into the finished product.

Since graduating with a Masters in Fine Art in 2001 where she spent time painting the water meadows near Winchester Cathedral, Samantha has been experimenting with techniques to capture the currents, plants, colours, ripples and reflections in water. Her oil paints are mixed with yacht varnish, in varying consistencies, to create the shiny translucent layers which are applied in various ways and built up over weeks and months. The paintings look so organic and natural that I was surprised to learn that she sketches out the pictures before starting, but Samantha did admit that she embraces happy accidents and usually incorporates them into the finished product.

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In addition to oil and varnish, the pictures are occasionally embellished with fine metallic wire, and Sam also uses interference paints and PVA glue to create other-worldly effects. She talks of her work having veins, cells and glutinous qualities, and in some of her paintings there are sections that resemble an animal with transparent skin. The depth of the layers and interplay between the paint and varnish also create natural buckles and ripples like the patterns on sand when the tide goes out. Some paintings are even more sculptural, as Sam occasionally adds foam to the surface of the work, which is also then painted and varnished, creating incredibly tactile pieces of art. She is currently exhibiting some work at Basingstoke Hospital, and the patients asked if they could touch them. Thanks to the amount of varnish in the artworks they are very robust!

Each painting, whether small or metres wide, covers a hand-made frame that is around 6cm deep, and Sam meticulously paints the sides too – and when you realise that she can only paint horizontally because the mixtures she uses are so fluid, you begin to understand how long each picture takes to paint, and the amount of work that goes into them. With the image wrapping around all the sides of the picture they resemble solid blocks of exotic marble, despite being only two dimensional.

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Samantha currently teaches art part time at the Basingstoke College of Technology, but she is happiest in her studio at The Base where she can lose herself in her paintings for hours at a time, and best of all she doesn’t have to clear them away at the end of the day – as she did when she was painting on the family kitchen table.

To see more of Samantha’s work, have a look at her website www.samanthaemmons.com.

[ENDS]

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Contact:
Open Studios: John Brazendale chair@open-studios.org.uk or 07765 218296, or admin@open-studios.org.uk

 

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